LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismisses as “total rubbish” a press report which quotes him as allegedly saying he would rather see “bodies pile high in their thousands” than impose a third national lockdown on the country.
The Daily Mail claims that Johnson made the comment during a heated discussion in late October, when his government imposed a second lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus cases. A third lockdown was ordered in January as infections shot up again, driven by a new, more contagious variant of the virus.
The Daily Mail does not cite a source for the claim, but there has been a spate of leaks from Johnson’s 10 Downing St. office, which are being investigated by government officials. Broadcasters BBC and ITV say they had also been told of the “bodies” remark.
Johnson says today that the allegation is “total, total rubbish.”
Britain has spent much of the last year under restrictions on business and daily life as it tried to contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has left more than 127,000 people dead, the highest toll in Europe. Restrictions are gradually being eased, alongside a mass-vaccination campaign that has given at least one dose of vaccine to half the UK population.